Olmert likely to face jail time, say police

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is likely to face jail time as a result of at least some of the seven corruption investigations being carried out at the moment, police sources told Ha'aretz on Monday.

The most serious case against Olmert involves allegations of bribery by a US Jewish businessman, but the sources said what could ultimately do Olmert in is his failure to be more careful about not violating Israel's new money laundering laws.

Olmert has admitted to receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from American tycoon Moshe Talansky over a period of several years, and to bringing that money into Israel without declaring it.

Several years back, Israel joined an international effort to curb money laundering by implementing new laws that make Olmert's undeclared transfers of large sums of money illegal.

The maximum sentence under the new laws is 10 years in prison.

In addition to the money laundering charge, Olmert is also facing bribery charges over the funds received by Talansky, as well as serious fraud charges over his alleged use of publicly solicited funds to pay for family vacations.

In light of these revelations, senior members of Olmert's ruling Kadima Party are demanding that he suspend himself and leave the Prime Minister's Office.

Party sources fear that Olmert is scheming to retain power as long as possible by merely "resigning" the day after an upcoming Kadima primary election.

By resigning, Olmert will ensure that he remains in power as head of a transitional government until a new government can be formed. In the meantime, Olmert is seen to be doing everything possible to sabotage the primary winner's ability to form a new majority coalition.

If the winner of the primary election is unable to form a new majority coalition, Olmert will remain prime minister until new national elections can be held sometime next year.

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